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March 29, 2019

Charli Turner Thorne

Courtney Ekmark

Kianna Ibis

Reili Richardson

Portland, Oregon

Mississippi State-76, Arizona State-53

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Arizona State. Coach, we'll begin first with your opening statement about tonight's game.

CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Sure, thank you.

Well, it didn't go the way we wanted it to. Obviously we didn't quite execute our game plan. Really proud of this team and everything they accomplished this year. Really appreciate everybody here in Portland. You guys have done a great job hosting. Appreciate everybody with the NCAA championship. It's always a first-class experience.

Also I just want to say an apology to Mississippi State. One of our players did -- obviously a very physical game. One of our players did say something at the end of the game that upset another one of their players. That's not who we are. That's not what we ever do. We always shake hands. We're always very respectful and classy.

She feels really bad. I just wanted to say that. If there's any representative on their team, you can pass it on, but I'll text Vic.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions to the student-athletes.

Q. You were in foul trouble all night right from the start. What was going on there trying to fight with McCowan generally that got you guys in that much foul trouble?
KIANNA IBIS: Yeah, it was really a battle down there today. It was a very physical team. We just tried to match their physicality. We weren't disciplined today, and that really showed.

Q. Courtney, when it comes to the legacy of this senior class, what do you think that will be looking back?
COURTNEY EKMARK: I'm really proud of our senior class this year for stepping up and leading our team and working hard. Hopefully that just paves the way for the next group of seniors to come in next year and keep it going.

Q. Reili, can you describe what this group of seniors has meant to you personally?
REILI RICHARDSON: Yeah, they're awesome. I loved playing with them. They did a lot for our team. They're just paving the way for the future.

Q. Kianna, maybe you can talk about the physical aspect of the game. A lot of muscling going on inside. Had you faced a physical opponent like that before? How did the game plan play out especially with having to contain a physical presence like McCowan inside?
KIANNA IBIS: I wouldn't say we've played a team as physical as them. I think that's why they're going on to the Elite 8. I feel like they're going to go far in this tournament.

Yeah, we didn't execute the game plan because we weren't supposed to let them get second shots. We weren't supposed to foul. Yeah, we just didn't match the physicality. Like I said before, we weren't disciplined today.

Q. Kianna, what do you think the senior legacy will be?
KIANNA IBIS: I just want the team just to remember, like, how hard we worked on and off the court, just who we were on and off the court, how we stood up to Charli's standards and her culture, how we treated people, how we played basketball, everything beyond that.

Q. Reili, turnovers were an issue, too. Was it hard with as much effort was being put in to try to contain McCowan, to match up with everybody else? What about the quickness of their guards?
REILI RICHARDSON: I think their pressure bothered us a little bit. We threw passes that weren't there. We just forced it. We didn't do our game plan, so that was ultimately it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you and congratulations on a great season, ladies.

We will continue with questions for coach.

Q. It seemed like for a while you were keeping McCowan kind of under control. Some of the other people were hurting you. Just eventually the fouls mounted up to more than what has happened to you all year long.
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, you know, obviously we were going to say make other people beat us. A lot of the fouls were on the lane drive and we were late. We were silly. Kianna, it wasn't on McCowan, kind of silly. We were not a shot-blocking team. We probably had 10 fouls trying to block their shots.

We just got away from things. I think the moment. I mean, we've been in this situation so many times with teams this good. You know they're going to get a step on you. They're just that good. You just have to be disciplined and don't foul them, just run it right back at them.

We just didn't do that. Honestly, watching all the film on Mississippi State, it's just a total -- like I don't know how you decide who you call a foul on. That's how I got my technical. You call a foul every time. I didn't think I should get a technical for saying that. I didn't get warned either.

Obviously we lost out on that whole battle of two people shoving each other. But we fouled. We did. We didn't execute our game plan. I mean, we wanted to make the guards beat us. I thought down the stretch we were kind of giving them a little bit of everything. Then we kind of wanted to pick up our pressure. So we didn't do that.

But, you know, I think at the end of the day, I mean, we were doing a good job of holding them. We didn't need to hit shots. We knew we needed to have a good offensive game tonight. We got good shots I thought for the most part. Courtney is an amazing shooter. Kianna's foul trouble, that really, really hurt us. And that's on her. It was on her. It was silly fouls. I saw what they called, didn't disagree with it, which is too bad. Incredible player like that, it would have been nice to have her out there for more than 16 minutes or whatever it was.

But we needed other people to step up offensively. We just didn't quite get shots to fall. I think if we would have had our clean looks fall, we would have been right there. We were saying, they haven't lost close games this year. Last year they had a lot of close games. They were good in them. This year they haven't. Hang around, we know we're good in close games.

We got away from things. Credit Mississippi State. Vic, with his four seniors, coming up short two years in a row, they're a hungry, hard-working, talented team. All the credit to them in terms of taking it to us today.

Q. You played in a really good conference. Is that the best team you played this year? Do you think they can win a national championship?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, I think it's wide open. I think it's hard to say they're the best team. On any given day, Oregon, Stanford -- I mean, McCowan kind of changes things a little bit. Then again, it depends on who you have to match up. It depends on if those other kids hit some shots.

I mean, we played Baylor. I think Baylor has a chance to win the national championship. Played Louisville. Depending on how things go for them... That's kind of a great thing about this year. I think for college women's basketball, I mean, there's probably seven or eight teams really that could win this national championship this year.

Q. Obviously the question has been going around. What do you think the legacy of this senior class will be?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I think they articulated it really well. They work hard. They're great people. They live to the standards of our program on and off the court, and we have very high standards. Very high standards that they are getting As and Bs. They're great citizens, they're doing their community service. They're just doing work, making great decisions with their life.

Our four seniors do that impeccably. So I was really happy for them to at least get this far in the tournament. I mean, obviously didn't play well enough to advance. But they have done an amazing job showing our younger players what it means to be a Sun Devil.

Q. I think you were down by nine going into the fourth quarter. Did you think at that point even with the foul trouble, whatnot, you still might be able to get back into it?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, we felt good. We did. Obviously three possessions, we were like just get the shots falling. Kianna, just keep her out there. They didn't really feel like they could guard her.

They just started overloading and going inside. I'll have to look at the tape. I don't know. I mean, you know, both people are shoving on each other. It was just foul, foul, foul, foul, foul. We were supposed to be sitting on her. I called a timeout early. This is what they're doing, adjust.

I don't know. We just weren't adjusting the way we normally do, so... But, yeah, we thought we were right there. We can cover nine points pretty quick. But, you know, I mean, that's the difference with a team. Again, they haven't had a lot of close games for a reason. They know how to in the fourth quarter put the foot on the jugular. Holmes hits a jumper. Daring to shoot, hit shots. We needed that not to happen. We needed a little luck of the Irish or something.

Q. If it's Oregon against Mississippi State in the final, how do you think those two teams match up?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Great question. They've already played. I watched that game now twice. I watched it again last night. I mean, you know, Oregon does have Hebard who can really match up pretty well with McCowan. Like, I don't think we have someone that's quite that grippy. So I think they have that. I think Oregon, you know, I mean, you want me to make my prediction?

Q. Yeah.
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: I'll make it. You know I don't care. I mean, Oregon's got the shooting. If Oregon brings their A game, I mean, they have everybody on the floor, one through four, can just, you know, drain threes all game long. I think their zone, the way they play defense, is the style you want to play against Mississippi State.

Sometimes if Oregon is playing a great shooting team, they can get themselves in trouble. But a team like that that just wants their paint touches, lane line layups, that plays into Oregon's hands.

It will be a great game. I thought the first time around Oregon handled the pressure really well. But, you know, McCowan got in foul trouble. But I'd give the edge to Oregon. They're both great rebounding teams. Oregon has the best backcourt in the country, in my opinion. They're going to take care of the ball. They're going to get their shooters the shots that they need.

Sorry, Vic (smiling). Back the Pac.

Q. What was the problem with Reili?
CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Reili was nine to two. It was more our bench that had untimely turnovers. The problem is Mississippi State. We actually normally played that style. We adjusted our style this year. We'll get back, be a lot more athletic next year and aggressive with our defense.

One bad pass here or there, live turnover layup. We only had 16, which, I mean, is still more than we normally have. I think we only average like 13 a game. You can't have the live turnovers that give them the run- outs.

We talked about it. I mean, one day of practice. We really don't have anybody in our conference that plays Mississippi State style. UCLA a little bit. I mean, I told them, You played against this style, this is us, the whole pre-season. We needed to take a little bit better care of the ball. But we didn't win the battle of possessions on either front.

We take better care of the ball, we do a little bit better on the boards, we got an exciting game at the end, ladies and gentlemen. I'm playing a deep rotation. We kind of took turns a little bit and that hurt us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.


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